And then I catch myself, catching your scent on someone else. In a crowded space, and it takes me somewhere I cannot quite place.
- Frank Turner, The Way I Tend To Be
When I was 16 and leaving for a week’s vacation with my family, my high school boyfriend gave me one of his shirts, sprayed with his cologne. I wore it to bed each night I was away.
That year my friends bought me a bottle of it as a joke for my birthday. It was Nautica Blue.
I walked into a rest stop convenience store last fall and immediately smelled the cologne of my ex-boyfriend-- the one I spent five years with, the one I lived with. At that point it had been two and a half years since I had left him and within one moment of registering the scent, I was transported to a different time and place. My eyes darted from stranger to stranger, trying to locate where it was coming from— to see if he was there. He wasn’t. And so my heart slowed.
“That’s him, though. That’s his cologne,” I said to out loud, to myself, as if I were speaking to the girl I was before-- the girl I was when I was with him, the only one who would remember it like I do.
I got back in the car and racked my brain—I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name of it.
One of my brothers now wears the same cologne as the man I dated after things ended with my last serious boyfriend. I dated him when I was younger, too, and when things picked back up, I found comfort in the smell of familiar cologne, of a past that was now present again.
But things ended as they do—messy, with words left unsaid, and feelings left hanging out in the open, waiting for the other to take notice, and to hopefully pull them back into safety. But there was no understanding with him; there never was. And so the unexpected scent of him bothered me so. It was an invasion of sorts—the scent of someone whose intentions were muddled and who was now ever so present in my parents’ home, a place he never wanted to be.
I have to stop myself from harboring any ill will toward my brother. It’s good cologne, a strong scent, and not his fault.
The man I’ve most recently gone out with wears cologne that has ignited a lust of sorts I’ve never quite experienced. When asked by my friends how our first date went, my immediate response was, “He smells so good.”
And after seeing him again, I’ve only reiterated the sentiment by saying, “Dangerously good.”
It’s a combination of pheromones and synapses firing and things I don’t fully understand, and don’t necessarily need to in order to know that what I’m feeling is beyond my immediate control.
I don't know the brand, or where he bought it, or how long he's worn it-- but I do know what it's like to fall asleep with a faint trace of it on my skin, and how easily I could get used to that.